Sporting Memories

10 YEARS AGO: For once, time ran out on Wanderers when they failed to beat the transfer deadline in their ambitious bid to sign Senegal international Djibril Diawara on loan from Torino.

It was always going to be touch and go but when the £5million-rated midfielder flew in from Italy, it looked odds-on that Sam Allardyce would make a significant addition to his promotion-chasing squad.

But officials could not complete the paperwork in time to register the deal before the 5pm deadline.

Wanderers, who had Colin Hendry, Gareth Farrelly and Ricardo Gardner away on international duty, had a day off but it was still a good weekend with one of their main promotion rivals – Birmingham City – losing 2-1 at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

Michele di Piedi’s late winner left Trevor Francis’s Blues fourth in the table, two points behind Wanderers who were second – 14 points behind runaway leaders Fulham.

Ex-Wanderer Bob Taylor scored twice for Gary Megson’s West Brom who beat bottom club Tranmere 2-1 at The Hawthorns to stay fifth.

Wanderers’ growing reputation as pioneers of sports science was underlined when Newcastle sent injured striker Alan Shearer to the same Colorado clinic that successfully treated Reebok duo Jussi Jaaskelainen and Gardner for serious knee damage.

Elsewhere, mystery surrounded the whereabouts of Pakistan international footballer Nasir Iqbal who was reported to have “done a runner” from the squad on the day they were due to play a friendly against Bury at Gigg Lane. As team-mates were left scratching their heads, police investigating the 19-year-old’s disappearance suggested he may have been visiting relatives.

The all-conquering Australian cricket team that had won five successive Test series, were brought down to earth in India where they lost the decisive third and final Test in Madras.

Ninth seed Tim Henman had no complaints after crashing out of the Masters Series Ericsson Open in three sets to Fabrice Santaro of France.

The British number one never looked comfortable and, after praising the victor, admitted: “I did not deserve to win.”

15 YEARS AGO: Sasa Curcic scored his first goal at Burnden Park to help Wanderers secure a 2-1 victory over Sheffield Wednesday to lift themselves off the foot of the Premier League table.

It looked like curtains for Wanderers when Guy Whittingham pounced on a Simon Coleman mistake to put Wednesday in front after 37 minutes. They had never come from behind to win a Premiership game but Scott Sellars equalised before half time and when Curcic created and scored what turned out to be the winner seven minutes into the second half, he breathed new life into their survival hopes.

And before flying out on international duty, the enigmatic Serbian turned his sights on the forthcoming relegation duel with Manchester City.

“We have a 50-50 chance of staying up,” Curcic said. “If we beat Manchester City anything is possible. If we don’t, that’s it. It will be over.” Wanderers captain Alan Stubbs – the subject of almost daily transfer speculation – was tipped for a summer move to Rangers after being checked out by Gers assistant manager Archie Knox.

After a proposed move to Blackburn had come to nothing, Stubbs had been repeatedly linked with Chelsea and Arsenal, where his old Bolton boss Bruce Rioch was in charge.

But Rangers were now said to be prepared to match the bids of any Premiership suitors.

Bolton boss Colin Todd was planning to sign the much-travelled veteran keeper John Burridge as player-coach.

Alex Ferguson, manager of Premier League leaders Manchester United, sportingly donned a Wanderers hat as he stood up to address a local audience at the Bolton Business Awards dinner at the town hall.

The Scot, introduced as “probably the best manager in the world”, gave the audience advice on leadership, explained why United had stood by their captain Eric Cantona following his controversial kung-fu attack on a Crystal Palace fan at Selhurst Park, and attacked the British tendency to castigate sporting heroes, such as Cantona, and praise failures like Frank Bruno.

Of Frenchman Cantona, Fergie said: “He can put bums on seats, he can thrill people and he can win titles for Manchester United. So that’s the reason he is still here.”

40 YEARS AGO: Unsettled Wanderer Roy Greaves was dominating the local headlines.

The day after handing in a written transfer request, the utility man faced an FA disciplinary hearing for collecting his third booking in 12 months.

His Burnden Park team-mates Warwick Rimmer and Ian Seddon were also facing hearings after sendings off.

The disciplinary committee had come under fire for being “ogres who are out to down players”.

But FA secretary Denis Follows hit back at the critics, saying the attacks were “ill-founded and born of ignorance or prejudice”.

Follows insisted the FA followed what many saw as an intolerant line because they needed to lead from example and maintain discipline.

Meanwhile, Greaves’ request for a move was deferred until the end of the season by the Wanderers directors.

General manager Nat Lofthouse refused to comment on any reasons Greaves had given for wanting a move, but summed up his reluctance to let the player go, explaining: “Greaves is under contract to Bolton Wanderers until June this year and has a one-year option. His request will be reviewed then.”

Greaves, who was believed to be unhappy about having to play in a variety of positions – in the back four, midfield and in attack – for the struggling Wanderers, was reported to be on the wanted list of a number of First Division clubs. Liverpool manager Bill Shankly was a known admirer, as was Manchester City’s Malcolm Allison.

A fixture clash forced Wanderers’ record-breaking goalkeeper Eddie Hopkinson to change the date of his testimonial game.

Hopkinson, who held the club’s appearance record, originally planned the benefit match to be played on April 21, when Portugal legend Eusebio was among the big- name players who had promised to take part.

But Eusebio’s club, Benfica, called for a rearrangement in the light of European Nations Cup games involving Portugal, Scotland, England and Greece being scheduled for the same night.

Wanderers agreed to switch the testimonial to the following week.

Cassius Clay – or Muhammad Ali as he was now known – rejected as “ridiculous” a report by the chairman and senior medical officer at the British Amateur Boxing Association that he may have been doped when he lost his world-title fight against Joe Frazier, which was billed as the “Fight of the Century”.

Dr Joseph Blonstein said he had never seen Ali move more slowly than in the 15-round battle, claiming his action’s were mysterious and his eyes were glazed.

But Ali countered: “I don’t think he was watching the fight I was in. I was moving pretty quick. I was hitting Frazier two shots for every one.”

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